SEATTLE (AP) — Seattle Mariners shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt, whose lack of discipline at the plate and erratic play in the field has frustrated the team’s management and fans this year, was traded Friday to the Kansas City Royals for two minor league pitchers and cash.

Right-hander Danny Cortes will report to Double-A West Tenn and left-hander Derrick Saito will head to Class A Clinton.

Betancourt, 27, was hitting .250 with two homers and 22 RBIs in 63 games this season for the Mariners. He’s been on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma after straining his left hamstring, and will continue rehabbing at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.

Betancourt fled his native Cuba on a makeshift raft five years ago and signed with Seattle as a free agent in January 2005, hitting .279 with 27 homers and 202 RBIs in 588 career games. He signed a three-year contract extension in April 2007.

This year, though, he failed to play up to the standards of new manager Don Wakamatsu, who wanted more patience at the plate. Betancourt has just 10 walks in 224 at-bats this season. He was also benched twice this season after lackluster play in the field.

“The opportunity presented itself for us to acquire a pair of talented arms and as we move forward we felt this was the right thing to do at this time,” Mariners General Manager Jack Zduriencik said in a statement. “We want to thank Yuni for all he has done for the Mariners and wish him the best of luck in Kansas City.”

Cortes, 22, is 6-2 with a 3.12 ERA in his last 11 games for Double-A Northwest Arkansas of the Texas League, after beginning the 2009 season 0-4. He was rated by Baseball America as the Royals top pitching prospect entering the 2009 season.

Saito, 21, is 2-6 with 1 save and a 4.26 ERA in 21 games for Single-A Burlington in the Midwest League.


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